High-flying Pilots put on show at Langley Events Centre
It is not too often that an athlete will have a big smile across their face after their team just got waxed on the court.
But there was Walnut Grove Gators’ Paul Getz, with a big grin following his team’s 118-55 loss to the Findlay Prep Pilots, USA Today’s second ranked boys’ basketball team.
“You want to go out there and play the best you can, no matter what the outcome is,” said the Grade 12 forward, who led the Gators with an impressive 17 points and a blocked shot.
“It is fun, you learn lots and you are playing with some of the best guys in North America.”
The Pilots were the main attraction for the inaugural Tsumura Basketball Invitational, which was held Dec. 1 and 2 at the Langley Events Centre.
The Pilots, a prep school powerhouse from Henderson, Nev., have six players already committed to NCAA Division 1 schools for next season. They have also had four former players taken in the past three NBA drafts.
Findlay completed their weekend with a 108-40 win over the White Rock Christian Warriors.
The Gators and Warriors are ranked first and fourth, respectively, to open the senior boys basketball season.
Against the Pilots, Walnut Grove kept it relatively close in the opening quarter, leading at three separate points. But Findlay’s size — they boast players six-foot-nine, six-foot-10 and six-foot-11 — and athleticism took over, leading to several fast breaks and dunks the rest of the game.
The Pilots led at the end of each quarter by 16, 31, 50 and then finally the 63-point margin of victory.
Findlay Prep coach Todd Simon said his team is used to getting their opponents best efforts in the early going.
“We understand that most places we go, we are their Super Bowl,” said Simon, whose team is regularly televised on ESPN.
“That is just part of the deal of where we are at. We’ve got a bullseye wherever we go, but the guys need that.
“It is going to help them in college and it holds them accountable every day.”
“We were a little out-manned in terms of size and athletic ability, but I thought our kids shot the ball and reasonably well,” said Gators coach George Bergen.
“I think we also held our own in terms of rebounding, but it was pretty tough in there.”
Simon was impressed by what he saw.
“They are very well coached, they made a bunch of threes early on,” he said.
“I like their prospects for the season.”
The coach also admitted his team played special defensive attention to Walnut Grove’s Jadon Cohee, the Gators Grade 11 star who is eyeing a college scholarship south of the border.
“We were really keying on him, dogging him a little bit and he never really got flustered,” said Simon. “He showed well.”
Walnut Grove finished the TBI with a big 82-58 victory over the fifth-ranked W.J. Mouat Hawks on Sunday afternoon.